I took a foray into the map cap, fun and exciting world of voice box personal ads, via a "respectable" newspaper. My foray produced an eye-opening array of interesting individuals.
I, of course, at over 40 was carrying no "baggage" (said with deep sarcasm), so my astonishment at the history one had to contend with in the arduous world of delayed dating was understandable.
Asked "Why?" by my friends.
Asked "Why?" by my various companions.
Asked, "Why are you doing this?"
My flippant answer always was, "I'm seeking Quality Entertainment Value."
I have now had time to expand on that flippant answer. I stand by it but, expand.
Found myself at 40 with two children and with, what I at the time felt was a horrendous debt load. The father of my children has limited contact, monetarily and emotionally with his children and, quite likely, with anyone else that was part of any of his past live(s). This, I feel compelled to point out, is not my choice however, I accept. I pondered for a time taking on the mantle of suffering single mother. Unfortunately (deep sarcasm), the story my mother told me throughout childhood. The story, when I complained bitterly of some minor adjustment to my plans, with only the righteousness a "child" can produce. The story given to me of starving children in China or India or South America. That story regarding choice and circumstance. Circumstance beyond control. That story kept haunting me.
The father of my children was, I endearingly refer to him, a "bum". A man who worked maybe 18 months in our 16 year marriage. A man who had lost himself long before I met him and found in the losing a comforting (w)hole. A mushroom content in the cow patty. Well fertilized. Well taken care of. So the view's not that great. So what. This man, the father of my children, had taught me well. That's not to say that the other men in my past lives had not taught me well, in their own ways, it's just that the father of my children had more time.
I'm a slow learner.
The father of my children had taught me with a vigour. Had taught me with all his male energy. Had taught me through fear and hope, love and pity. The father of my children had taught me how to provide. I could provide. I'd been taught well. Despite education, despite temperament, despite gender, I had a "good" job.
He'd also taught me value. The value of being organized. Having had no assistance during our marriage with the little, inconsequential, "women's work" things like daycare for the children, or housework, or coordinating activities, or getting the bills paid on time, I was organized.
He'd also taught me how to live below my means; spending any extra money we could scrape together on one of his projects, on one of his "if onlys", on one of his dreams. I could be frugal. He'd also taught me to be self-sufficient emotionally. He'd worked hard. With a passion. With a mission. He'd convinced me, over the years, that no one cared. No one had my best interests in mind. No one loved me; like he did. I could be insular.
He'd also taught me the real need, the great necessity, you must do it, of carving out quality time to give to your children. To talk, to laugh, to cry together (whatever is required). He'd taught me this by demonstrating, on a day-to-day basis, the devastating effects that can be wrought if this quality time is not produced. I could give.
Spent some time after our marriage had shattered, teetering on a very uncomfortable sharp edge, looking at the compelling forks on both sides of the life path I was now on. Either suffering single mother: (People could feel sorry for me. I would be commiserated with. Perhaps what I wanted would be "given" to me. After all I deserved it, I had suffered, I had suffered enough. It was my turn.) OR: lucky individual with untold paths to choose from.
I chose lucky.
I "buckled" myself down, set some things right with my employer, found a better environment for my children, commenced paying off the debts I had and, after about 18 months, found most was in place. Peace had descended on my household. I could come home from work and find my children more or less content. There were no longer stacks of bills in each mail deposit to fret over. I wasn't battling conflict, dissension, friction, I can'ts, "they" won't let me's, on an everyday basis. The chaos I had learned to cope with. The chaos I had learned to almost seek. The chaos I had learned to live with was missing and I found, to my puzzlement, at around the 18 month point, I was getting "anxious".
"You're an adrenaline junkie," one of my friends told me. "You've spent so much time coping and dealing with stress that now; now that your life is no longer stressful, now that you have some control, now that the opportunity to anticipate has been given back to you, you don't know how to contend. Your lack of stress is giving you stress."
"No," I'd retort, "I'm missing Entertainment Value. However, now; now I seek Quality Entertainment Value."
My friends would laugh.
We have lost sight, at least in the society which surrounds me, of what is enough. We are continually being entertained, like the proverbial carrot on a string leading the donkey. We are constantly being bombarded by television, magazines, newspapers, individuals, with the evidence of "more" and that need for more. That need has been dug so deeply into our psyches that even the most honourable and equitable of us must feel the tug. See the carrot and reach out to it, despite. (Clarification: I do not count myself as one of the most honourable and equitable.) And more. More is okay. There's nothing wrong with more, however. The quality. The quality of the more. We must question the quality.
As a kid, every year the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV, around Christmas time I think. Every year my parents would let me watch. Every year, for weeks afterward, I'd wake the house up, middle of the night; screaming. Terrified. The vision of the witch melting, burning through my night time world. Spent a lot of time thinking about Dorothy and her travelling companions. All seeking something: Dorothy home, the Lion courage, the Straw man a brain, the Tin Man a heart. All their insecurities, all their adventures, all that time. Searching. Only to find what they were seeking they already had. Always seemed like such a waste all that searching. I was wrong.
Voice box mail personal ads:
First there was Billy-Jo. A tow truck driver. A millionaire. His wife had been killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, 5 years previously. He had grieved badly. He had 3 young children whom he had moved across the country, back and forth, in a search of self again. Billy-Jo's parents had abandoned him as a baby and he had been raised in a succession of foster homes. Each forsaking him in turn when his anger became too much. The anger grew. It; the anger, required more. At 23, in a halfway home, a young volunteer, then 14, found him and saw his worth. Billy-Jo ran. Ran as he had been taught. Ran, because running was what he knew. She waited. She waited 2 years. Then called him home. He came and they lived happily ever after, until. The shock, the rage, the "unfairness" of it all must have overwhelmed him.
He called my ad and explained, "This is for me." He talked of a new respect for "women's work" and spoke with pride; of his children, what he had taught them, his tow truck. Hanging his head, he talked with shame of his childhood and his inability to properly cope with his daughters' needs, his son's trauma.
He spoke of the settlement. The money from the accident. He'd set it all aside. For the children. Drawing only from the interest, if need be. He dreamed out loud of finding a quiet place, building a log house, giving his kids some stability. A new life. With a far away look in his eyes, he talked of yin and yang, Chinese mystical properties, the occult. He always wore a fisherman's toque. I told him he reminded me of a pirate. This pleased him. When finally the toque came off, he self-consciously rubbed his head, the thinning of his hair an embarrassment. He talked of the "good woman" who lived next door. The woman who cared for his children only to "get at" him. I listened.
When he tried to make love to me, I spoke of AIDS and time. A need for caution. He became outraged. How could I think his precious wife, the angel now in heaven, could have had AIDS? I spoke of reasonableness and care. The need for decision. He did not hear. I spoke of the red circle, middle of my forehead, perhaps an old acne scar that did not heal. Told him it was my third eye. He ran.
I phoned him, several weeks later. To make sure. He was seeing the woman next door. Perhaps, perhaps they were moving. A friend was designing a log home. He was okay. He thanked me. For what?
Then there was Franc-Paul. Franc-Paul was French-Canadian. We had a lovely, intimidating accent. He'd come from a "dysfunctional" family. His father was a "military man". Drank too much. Beat his mother. Beat Franc-Paul. Franc-Paul grew-up and became a lawyer. I suspect to save his mother. Apparently, his mother did not want to be saved. When we first talked, Franc-Paul described himself as an ex-legal consultant, an ex-alcoholic, and ex-convict. He'd been convicted of laundering money. He'd been seduced, by boyhood friends and dreams. Dreams of more. Dreams of lazy days, clear blue water and hot sandy beaches. Franc-Paul had had a son. Franc-Paul had had a daughter. Franc-Paul had had a lovely wife. A lovely house. He'd played polo and drank exotic drinks. He'd discussed power and money with people dressed in cloths that would feed my family for several weeks. When he spoke of these things his eyes became very far away. Very very far away. And his smile. His smile became wistful. He'd jerk his head, minimally, once to the side, and look at his hands. It was all gone now. Regrets. Not so much for how lost, perhaps, but for now lost.
It annoyed him I could not say his name with the "proper accent." He spoke of always seeking out "independent" woman because he knew. He knew one day he'd no longer be around. He spoke of going to dances as a teenager. His friends playing, having fun, enjoying the occasion, while he'd be gone. Out in the parking lot. His "companion" a bottle of whiskey, a can of beer.
He talked of his "new" life. His satisfaction; helping others find new careers. He spoke of his new companions at the AA meetings. Their losses and triumphs. And he kept asking. Kept asking me, "What do you do?" But. But when I'd answer, when I'd try, when I'd start. When I'd wait for that second, thinking. He'd dismiss. And speak some more. Then he'd ask me again.
He warned me. He told me he was a "practical joker". He explained, giving two examples. I was shocked. "How can you treat people that way?" I assumed I did not understand. I assumed the stories were too short. Elaboration would come later. Then I'd understand. "But how?" How could one treat others that way?
He warned me. He advised me. He gave me counsel. He told me when. When there were people. When there were people he did not like. People "who did nothing". People who had no worth. When he encountered "these" people he played practical jokes on them. To teach. To teach them worth.
I warned him back.
He accused me of being judgmental.
And then he was gone.
My oldest daughter suggested if I insisted on pursuing this voice box dating "thing" that perhaps next time. Next time I should not go out with a man with two names. My daughter's a very practical soul. I took her advice.
Then there was Fred. Oh, Fred. The man with the deep blue, drowning pool voice. The man with the words. The man with the past. The man who knew.
I'm going to lie on some grass today.
On my way home.
On my side.
I'm going to lie on some grass today.
On a small hill.
I'm going to lie on some grass today and pretend you're behind me.
I don't yet know you're there.
I'm going to lie on some grass today and feel you.
Feel you behind me.
Fred was at one time a radio announcer. His voice was smooth, his words articulate. He spoke of calling the ad because he felt a "soul mate". A fellow traveller. He talked of his past "lives". Shared, what I thought, was everything. We exchanged our deepest, darkest secrets. And it was okay. It was okay.
He lived many miles away. We spent hours. Hours on the telephone. He came to see me. Was introduced to my children. We went to see him. Saw his roots. Saw his life. We would overcome. The distance. It would be okay, and then. Fred gave me a call. Fred told me he felt. Felt I "deserved" honesty. I became afraid.
Fred explained more. He explained he had arranged a vacation. A vacation with another woman Before he had met me. Explained that he'd been having an affair with this woman for quite some time. Explained that he had promised this other woman. Had promised her that if the time ever came to break "it" off, that he would not do "it" over the telephone. I tried to understand. I tried. I suggested he must go to her. Tell her. I felt his small smile through the telephone lines. He told me he had obligations. He was busy. He could not go, and ~ a promise, was a promise. When I became very angry, he accused. He accused me of being like the woman in the movie Fatal Attraction". My anger increased. Alas, who would care for my children. Who would care for my children when I was in jail. A comforting thought, but unpractical. I had been "taught". I had been taught to be practical. I could be practical.
Fred called me too, after his "friend" was gone. He asked me if I waited. I smiled. (I'm sure the smile was "felt" through the telephone wires). I smiled and explained I had other obligations. I was busy. I was on another path, and ~ a promise, was a promise. Fred advised me; he would wait.
The "Entertainment Value" I have derived from the voice box personals has not been "Quality". However, I am no longer anxious. I have had many calls and offers to be taken to either Ireland or Seattle. I have been propositioned. I have been lectured. I have been "date from hell". I have had dates from hell and, have endured, despite. I have been told I am not worthy. Not worthy because of my blue collar background, because of my education, because of my "history". I have been called a "wing-nut". I have been analyzed and told who I am. I have been adored. I have been used as a trophy. I have smitten. I have been smitten. I have been taken for walks on the beach. I have been wined and dined. I have wined and dined. I have heard many stories. I have told my stories to many. I have listened to tales of personal airplanes, bank accounts, the quality of cars, fitness, ex-wives and Dad potential. I have told tales of my past "lives", my children, my work, my dreams.
And, I and have invariably been provided with the following statistic (for anyone who is interested) within the first 10 minutes of the first telephone call, namely, how much hair is on the caller's head. Enough.
I have decided to take a "holiday" from the voice box personals. A sabbatical. A rest. Enough. I seek "Quality Entertainment Value". Possibly that should be my next ad? Not a "gold digger". I can take care. Seeking a life companion. Not a one night stand. I know value. Not a suffering single mother looking for an out. Not a lonely soul grasping at straws. I know the I that I am. I seek more. I seek courage; someone with thought, someone with heart, someone with "common human decency". And this. This I willingly, eagerly, earnestly wish to provide back. That and home. Me thinks we all seek this. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Autonomous, Warhol-blue collar, philosophical 40 year old
seeks travelling companion for trip to the Emerald City.
2 kids, 2 cats, 2 ex's.
The smoking's a problem. I know. I'm goaling. I'm going to quit. I'm going to quit soon. It's just, well, for now, I have stress. You see. I have stress.
The game's afoot.